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The Switch to DTV

Author:  Mike Santini
Date:  2008.08.27
Topic:  Editorials
Provider:  Thermaltake
Manufacturer:  Kingston

The Switch to DTV

When and Where

On February 17, 2009 the United States will shut off all analog television signals and switch to digital. This is a big change for the industry and will ultimately lead to a better viewing experience. While few oppose the switch, many people are left with questions. Do I need a new TV? Do I need a converter box? Why are we switching? Here's what you need to know about Digital Television (DTV).


We are switching because digital is better. Really -That's why! Digital broadcasting allows for significantly better picture and sound. Digital also allows for what is called multicasting. Multicasting allows broadcasters to broadcast more than one program on the same channel at the same time (for example, with analog, you would have one program showing at 7pm on channel 2. However, with digital broadcasting you can have programs on channels 2-1, 2-2, 2-3, and 2-4 all at 7pm). The remaining extra spectrum will go to public safety announcements and will be used for future wireless broadband technologies.

What You'll Need

One of the biggest questions people have with the switch is, "Will I need to change anything about my current TV setup?" The answer is: it depends. For many, nothing needs to be changed; For other, they will need a converter box. If you are currently paying for a cable TV service or are receiving satellite TV, you are fine. The only thing you will notice is possibly better picture and sound. If you are currently receiving your signals through antenna, you will need to purchase a converter box (here is a link for the coupon and where to purchase). For those of you with HDTV's that are currently picking up HD programming through antenna, you will be fine. However, older portable battery-operated televisions will be rendered useless because the converter box is not intended for portability.


No, switching to DTV does not mean everyone will be getting HDTV, and the reason for this is simple. HDTV is not simply a digital signal, but a higher resolution image only receivable on an HDTV. HDTV is currently broadcasted in two formats, 720p (1280x720 progressive) and 1080i (1920x1080 interlaced). No broadcaster can currently broadcast in 1080p due to bandwidth limitations. For those of you with a SDTV (standard definition television), you will continue to receive TV in 480i (640x480 interlaced) but with a slightly higher quality image.

Other Analog Devices

Many of you may be thinking, "What about my other analog devices?" The analog switch-off will not affect any existing analog video equipment such as older video game consoles and the like. Because both older TVs and newer TVs have analog inputs, you can still use your analog video camcorders or video game console to output video on your TV.


The DTV switch is coming February 17, 2009. This will lead to mass riots, confusion, deaths, robberies, fires and total mayhem when people's old analog TVs stop working because they didn't get a converter box. Or not. Hopefully with some preparation and info, the switch will be (relatively) painless. For more information please visit



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